Infrastructure Week finally has arrived on Capitol Hill. This week, the Senate is expected to pass, per Democratic leadership announcements, a long-awaited infrastructure measure that was bipartisanly-negotiated and backed by President Joe Biden. If the $1 trillion bill does indeed become law, it will provide the largest chunk of federal funds for public works in decades. The around 2,700-page bill calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years, spread out on projects beyond traditional road and bridge construction and repairs. It also would pay for upgrades to public transit, bolster power grids, add protections for drinking water, expand... Read more →


Ah, August. In normal times (remember those?), we'd be complaining about the late-summer heat, parents would be counting down days until school started, and tax geeks would be looking at things they should do this month. Well, things are decidedly not normal. It's been abnormally hot in much of the country already. Some schools are reopening, but with more COVID-19 precautions than they had planned since the virus has re-emerged with a vengeance due to the Delta variant. Those August tax moves, though, they're still around, of course with some coronavirus twists. And today, Aug. 2, the first Monday of... Read more →


IRS image Last fall, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it was adding QR, or Quick Response, codes to some of the notices it sends taxpayers. Specifically, the codes are going on tax due notices. The goal, says the IRS, is to make it easier for taxpayers to deal with the notices. Recipients of the QR coded correspondence can use their smartphones to scan it and go directly to IRS website. From there, they can access their taxpayer account, set up a payment plan, or contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Basically, the digital option eliminates the tax middleman or woman.... Read more →


Thoreau's Cove, circa 1908, on Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts. (Photo from the U.S. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons) Nature is a healing touchstone for many. That was especially evident when we reduced our socializing due to COVID-19. A walk in a park was a way to get out of our self-imposed lockdowns and stay safely distant from others while embracing the environment. Many people went further as the coronavirus pandemic continued, moving from crowded cities to suburban or urban retreats where they could work from home. They found, in a fashion, their own modern day Walden Ponds. At... Read more →


No, that money from the Internal Revenue Service that just showed up in your bank account or snail mail box is not another COVID-19 economic impact payment. It's the result of the IRS working through tax returns that were filed before a new tax law that excludes a chunk of unemployment benefits from taxation. This week, the IRS announced that another 1.5 million taxpayers will get these unemployment-income-related refunds. The IRS says the average refund going out now is $1,686. COVID relief for the out-of-work: This is the latest round of refunds made to comply with changes in the American... Read more →


You got your first Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) this month. The added $300 for each of your kiddos age 5 or younger or $250 per child if your youngsters are age 6 through 17 is nice. But your 2021 financial situation has changed, and you've done the math. The calculations show that this COVID-19 relief money, authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act and which the Internal Revenue Service is sending based on your 2020 tax year filing data, no longer applies. In fact, since you're making a bit more money this year, if you keep getting the AdvCTC... Read more →


One of the severe storms that hit Michigan on June 26. In the wake of a major disaster declaration, the IRS is giving some of the state's taxpayers until Nov. 1 to take care of tax tasks. (Photo by Ben Kessler via the National Weather Service) The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season got off to an early start. Since then, though, it's been a slow tropical season. Thank you, Saharan dust (and Deb Fox)! However, other major natural disasters have made up for it. So far in 21, there have been 14 instances of tax relief provided by the Internal Revenue... Read more →


Attention shoppers in Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Your states are holding back-to-school sales tax holidays this final weekend in July, and beyond for Sunshine State and Volunteer State tax bargain hunters. Retailers are getting ready for youngsters to return to classrooms. Shoppers are getting ready for tax-free savings on school supplies and more. (Photo by Kay Bell) Despite a surge among unvaccinated of the COVID-19 Delta variant, most schools are making plans to welcome students back to classrooms this fall. Retailers also are joining the back-to-school parties. This year, 18 states scheduled sales tax-free events, most of them... Read more →


Millions of filers are still working on 2020 tax returns, some due to extensions, others filing for the first time to get various COVID-19 economic impact payments. But time, tide and taxes wait for no man or woman. Or the Internal Revenue Service, which has revised the individual Form 1040 and its three schedules for the 2021 tax year. Form 1040: Aside from the usual year notations, there are some line number reference that have changed in connection with items that are transferred to the 2021 Form 1040 from the form's three schedules. That's no surprise since, as noted a... Read more →


Just about a month ago, the Internal Revenue Service reportedly had a backlog of more than 35 million individual and business returns that required manual processing. That was up from 29 million back in April. Last week, however, the IRS said it's essentially caught up with early season individual filings. Hey, don't shoot the messenger. That's the official word from the IRS, via its special IRS Operations During COVID-19: Mission-critical functions continue webpage. In a July 23 update to a portion of the What You Can Expect section of that site, the tax agency says it "is opening mail within... Read more →


The University of Alabama soon might have some new competitors in the SEC. (Pixabay via Pexels) Sure, the COVID-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics are finally underway, but here in Texas we're fixating on, what else, football. The Dallas Cowboys will kick off the NFL's 2021 preseason in a couple of weeks, but it's college football that is dominating the conversation right now. It looks like the Big 12, which only has 10 colleges in the conference, is about to lose two more. Oklahoma (OU) and Texas (UT) reportedly are joining the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Not only would that mess up the... Read more →


It's no surprise that, after facing a ginormous backlog of paper tax forms that piled up when the Internal Revenue Service closed most of its campuses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the agency is looking to force more electronic filings. Proposed regulations published in today's Federal Register add seven forms to the IRS list of returns that businesses must, once a certain filing threshold is reached, submit electronically. The move is made possible by a provision of the Taxpayer First Act (TFA), which became law in July 2019 and included a variety of changes designed to... Read more →


The newly built Japan National Stadium in Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies on July 23, 2021, as well as some of the COVID-delayed games' events. (Photo by Arne Müseler via Wikipedia Commons) The 2020 Olympics from Tokyo officially start on Friday, July 23. No, the opening ceremonies arriving after some events' preliminary matches have already been played doesn't mean we get do-overs. Sorry, women's U.S. soccer team. Yes, the global sporting event is keeping last year's designation for continuity's sake, as well as not having to go to the expense of reproducing material created before the... Read more →


Everybody needs some help now and then. On Friday, July 23, and Saturday, July 24, the Internal Revenue Service is providing assistance to those in 16 metropolitan areas who need to file a 2020 tax return so they can get various COVID-19 relief payments. The first of six scheduled Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payments hit bank accounts and U.S. Postal Service boxes last week. The bulk of these initial payments — the Internal Revenue Service says it sent out $15 billion to about 35 million families — were dispersed automatically. The recipients, who had previously filed returns or used... Read more →


Millions of parents are as happy as these youngsters, thanks to the first Advance Child Tax Credit payment that arrived this month. Others, however, are wondering why they got less. The first of six scheduled Advance Child Tax Credit payments have arrived, and for the most part, the recipients are elated. Paul Williams, an economist and writer, has collected many of the happy recorded (or recreated) reactions in an entertaining Twitter thread. Some folks, however, aren't so thrilled. In fact, they're wondering why they didn't get the full $300 per month for each dependent child younger than age 6 and... Read more →


TurboTax won't be a Free File option when the 2022 tax filing season arrives. Taxpayers who used TurboTax to complete and e-file their returns at the Internal Revenue Service's Free File website are going to have to find a new program in 2022. The popular tax software is leaving the Free File program next filing season. It will, however, remain on the IRS.gov site for use by taxpayers who got an extension until Oct. 15 to finish their 2020 returns. TurboTax is the second major tax software provider to leave the Free File Alliance, the nonprofit coalition of tax software... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and those who want Uncle Sam to go after tax evaders were elated when a bipartisan infrastructure bill included money for enhanced tax collection efforts. Proponents said the beefed-up proposal to close the Tax Gap could bring in an additional $100 billion over the next 10 years in owed but unpaid taxes. However, that funding option has been scuttled. "Well, one reason it's not part of the [infrastructure] proposal is that we did have [Republican] pushback," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) during an appearance today on CNN's "State of the Union" program. But there's still hope... Read more →


View from the Astros' dugout in Minute Maid Park. (Photo by Kay Bell) The National Basketball Association's (NBA) championship series is on and, at least to this casual fan, surprisingly competitive. Major League Baseball (MLB) has started its second-half, with my two favorite teams at polar opposite ends of the playoff picture. National Football League (NFL) players will report to training camps this month. But aside from summer crossover, there's one other thing professional sports teams have in common. The billionaire owners of major league sports franchise owners are always the winners, even when their teams lose. How? By utilizing... Read more →


Don't fall for scammers who falsely say they can help you get, or get more, of the enhanced Child Tax Credit amounts that started going out this week. Instead, get help from a tax pro or use the Internal Revenue Service's online tools. The Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payments started showing up in bank accounts today. Folks who'll get the enhanced early credit amounts by snail mail should see those U.S. Treasury checks soon. The Internal Revenue Service says it delivered today the first batch of the early Child Tax Credit payments, worth roughly $15 billion, to around 35... Read more →


It's mid-July, a particularly important date this year for parents. No, I'm not talking about the Advance Child Tax Credit payments that started going out today. I'm talking about the imminent arrival of the 2021-22 school year. With the COVID-19 pandemic somewhat under control — Be gone, Delta variant and everyone please get vaccinated! — schools across the country will be opening this year. Yes, that sound you hear over the internet is millions of parents celebrating. Tax holidays, too: That other sound you hear is taxpayers, both parents and child-free, celebrating, too, because the annual back-to-school tax holidays also... Read more →